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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Dr JI Packer & Richard Baxter

Click to read the Light Magazine article about two of God’s essential workers.

We hear a lot about essential workers and essential services in these COVID-19 times.  At 7 pm each night, many of us have been cheering for them, as we bang on our pots and pans.  The late Dr. JI Packer, God’s essential worker, helps us rediscover Richard Baxter’s essential writings, not just for mortal life but more importantly for eternal life.  What might it be like to cheer for God’s essential workers, including our theologians, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries?[1]  Both Baxter and Packer knew from personal experience that physical death is not the worst thing that can happen to us.  Both faced sickness and possible death early in life, but fixed their gaze on Jesus Christ in those difficult times.  Packer, who did his Oxford doctorate on Baxter, helped us rediscover Baxter’s brilliant emphasis, derived from Rupertus Meledenius: “In Essentials, unity; in non-essentials, diversity; and in all things charity.”  

Many believe that J.I. Packer, born in 1926 and passed on July 17th 2020, will be remembered as the principal theologian of the 21st Century.  Packer and Baxter each had the same puritan passion for knowing truth, seeing it as our first duty.[2] Both represent the best of Puritanism without being ‘puritanical’.[3]  Baxter in the 17th century commented: “I never discover a Truth in my studies, but it is as sweet to my mind as a feast to my body…I spend my time, and strength and spirits in almost nothing but studying after Truth.”[4]  Many people nowadays dismiss theology as non-essential ivory-tower speculation. We live in an anti-rationalist culture that worships one’s feelings and denies any objective truth.  Both men believed that the mind actually mattered, that reason and thinking were gifts from God that helped us discern truth.  Their love for truth gave them a respect for the arts, sciences, history[5], as well as theology.[6]  In Baxter’s day, theology was seen as the Queen of the sciences.[7] 

For both men, knowing God with our head and heart was essential.[8] It is not enough to just know about God academically.  Baxter held that “he is the best scholar who hath the readiest passage from the ear to the brain, but he is the best Christian who hath the readiest passage from the brain to the heart.”   Dr J.I. Packer also warned against “hardness of heart and cynicism of the head.”  Being heavenly-minded for Baxter and Packer was the key to making the most lasting impact on planet Earth. 

Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the twenty-five most influential evangelicals, Dr Packer is best known remembered for his most popular book Knowing God.  In reading Dr Packer’s doctoral thesis, I discovered that Packer’s Knowing God classic is an unpacking of the wisdom of Richard Baxter. 

Jesus prayed in John 17:21 that we would be one as the Father and Son are one that the world may believe.  While Baxter and Packer were both ordained Anglican clergy, they had a deep love for the wider body of Christ.  That is part of the reason that Packer has served since 1979 at Regent College, a interdenominational college. Baxter called himself ‘a mere Christian’, expressing the truth that God’s people go beyond the bounds of any one denomination.[9]  Both showed us that unity in the Essentials of the Gospel is essential to reach the world for Christ, such as the creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments.  Are we willing to repent over our division and arguments over non-essentials?  We can all agree to the full deity and humanity of Jesus, his virgin birth, his death for our sins, his physically rising from the grave.  By contrast, the precise way that we baptize, celebrate communion, organize our church leadership, or sing worship songs are not essentials worth splitting over.  Both men knew that not every Christian congregation has to be exactly the same, as sameness crushes creativity and spiritual intimacy.

After the heart-rending English civil war of 1647, Baxter felt called to be a peacemaker. [10] All his writings sought to promote “in all things, charity (love).”   As Packer put it, Baxter “meddled much with Controversies…to end them.” It was Baxter’s respect for truth that kept him from ‘undignified wrangling’.[11]  Even though he was often banned from preaching and forced out of town, Baxter stayed gracious and Christ-centered.  Both Packer and Baxter were deeply charitable and humble in times of great controversy.[12] While neither liked controversy, both had the courage to take a stand for gospel truth when waves of conflict occurred. Even when recently needing to say no to false teachers, Packer spoke the truth in love.  He never became vindictive and negative. At age 93, he is finishing well, staying focused on the goodness of the gospel essentials.

Our prayer is that in this COVID-19 pandemic, that we like these brave Christian men, Baxter and Packer, might rediscover what is essential, how to celebrate diversity, and the urgency of charitable love in all circumstances.

Rev.  Dr. Ed and Janice Hird

Co-author, Blue Sky novel

-published in the June 2020 Light Magazine

-Readers are invited to read the first two Academia.edu articles of the JI Packer & Richard Baxter Trilogy:

1) Analyzing the Global Impact of Dr. J.I. Packer

2) An Evaluation of Richard & Margaret Baxter’s Lasting Contribution in 17th Century England


[1] The Gospel and church are deemed in our COVID culture as a nonessential service, unlike pot stores.

Peace Arch News April 23rd 2020, Tom Zillich, A33 “…now would be the worst time to curtail people’s access to those substances which have helped them deal with their anxiety.”

[2] JI Packer, The Restoration and Redemption of Man in the Thought of Richard Baxter, Oxford Doctoral Thesis 1954 (Regent College Publishing, Vancouver, 2002), 96,  Packer commented regarding Baxter, “To the end of his life, he could never understand how his fellow Christians could love truth do little and seek it so half-heartedly.”

[3] Packer, Thesis, 95 (Baxter)…was anima naturaliter Puritana, the incarnation of Puritanism at its purest.”; Thesis, 98 Packer “…a Puritan thoroughbred…Baxter was the most consistent Puritan of them all.”

[4] Packer, Thesis, 95.

[5] Thesis, 68 Baxter “History is a very profitable study, if it be used for the right ends, and be rightly chosen. It is a very great help to understand the Scriptures, and to know the former and present state of the church; and to see the wonderful works of Providence, that otherwise would be lost to us.” XI:213

[6] Thesis, 95 (Baxter) “…to take all arts and sciences for his province so that he might himself construct the hierarchy of truth and show, according to the Puritan blueprint, how all this comes from God and leads to God.”

[7] Thesis,64 Packer: “Fundamental to all Puritan thought was the seventeenth-century version of the Medieval doctrine that all knowledge is a unity and all sciences, physical and moral, form a hierarchy at the head of which stands theology.”

[8] Packer, Thesis, 86,  ‘Baxter never tired of reminding his readers that “Heaven-work and Heart-work are the chiefest parts of Christian duty”; “true religion…consists in heaven-work and heart-work, in the love of God and man…” Cure of Christian Divisions (1670) 209, 408, et al.

[9] The title of CS Lewis’ best-selling book Mere Christianity is taken directly from Richard Baxter.  

[10] Thesis, 96.

[11] Thesis, 97 Packer: “He was exact in definition and accurate in usage; and his respect for truth and sense of responsibility for it kept him from undignified wrangling.”

[12] “What a gracious man”, I (Ed) thought as Dr J.I. Packer spoke.   In the midst of a raging North Carolina snowstorm, he was giving a morning devotion at the Anglican Mission Winter Conference on John 21, in which he identified with Simon Peter’s growing through failure.   The first time we ever spent time with Dr Packer was in 1979 in a student residence on the University of BC campus where we literally chased noises in the heating system.  Dr Packer came across so humbly and natural, despite his worldwide reputation. 

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Foreword by Dr. JI Packer to ‘Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit’

Foreword

By the Rev. Dr. J.I. Packer

Think of Shakespeare.  Each of his plays is distinctive, having its own character and plot.  Some of them are grander than others.  But they all have the tang, so to speak, of Shakespeare, and it is hard to imagine any of them being written by anyone else.

So with Paul’s letters.  Each is different, and they are not all equally weighty.  But in each, we meet the same person: the apostle who lives under the authority of his risen Lord and Saviour, and of the divine message of which he has been made trustee; the teacher who calls constantly for faith in the truth of that message and in its Christ, God-man, sin-bearer, conqueror of death, discipler and coming judge; the pastor who insists that faith must show itself and unshakeable hope and conscientious, law-keeping love.  In all Paul’s letters, the flavour of his gospel is steady, sweet and strong, and that is as true of Titus as it is of any.

Titus is sometimes dismissed as a dull, possibly non-Pauline rehash of things that Paul says more vividly elsewhere, notably in his letters to his prize protégé Timothy.  But such a verdict is unperceptive, not to say perverse.  Titus was Paul’s second deputy after Timothy, and Paul had left him on the island of Crete to finish setting in order the congregations of first-generation converts there.  Was this a tough task?  Yes.  Cretan culture, so it appears, was casual, morally sloppy, undisciplined, self-indulgent, and self-absorbed.  It is true that in his letter to Titus, Paul spells out Christian essentials in a somewhat laborious way, but this does not mean that he doubts the adequacy of Titus’ grasp of the Christian basics; what it shows, rather, is that he is going over in his own mind the full and forthright terms in which the fundamentals needed to be impressed on the Christian believers.  Equally forthright statements, be it said, to young churches and church plants are sometimes needed today.

Ed Hird is a working pastor, a gospel veteran whose bailiwick for many years has arguably had something of Crete in it.  He recognizes the realism of this letter, and his exposition brings it out.  I heartily commend what he has written.

Dr. J.I. Packer 

Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology at Regent College;

Prolific author, including Knowing God,

Named by Time Magazine as among the 25 most influential evangelicals in America

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you. 

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 


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Dr. James Eustace Purdie: a Canadian Dennis Bennett

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird 

Born June 9th 1880, Dr. Purdie attended St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Prince Edward Island and was converted at age 19 through his mother’s oldest sister.  Following his conversion, Dr. Purdie reported: “The call of ministry began to impress on me. I had to preach the gospel or die.”  He moved to Toronto in 1902, where he studied for five years at Wycliffe College.  Dr. Purdie saw Wycliffe faculty as “champions of the Evangelical truths of the Bible and the Reformed faith of the Reformation.”  He called them “scholarly men who were out and out for God”, the highest compliment that Purdie could pay anyone.  Wycliffe became the future model for Dr. Purdie’s own Western Bible College where he trained 600 clergy over twenty-five years.  After pastoring three rural Anglican congregations in Manitoba, Dr. Purdie joined the staff of St Luke’s, a large Anglican congregation in St John New Brunswick where he led open-air meetings on Sunday night for as many as five thousand people.

 

In 1911, Dr. Purdie first heard of the renewal of the Holy Spirit through a booklet he received in the Maritimes.  In 1917, Dr. Purdie moved to St James Anglican Church, Saskatoon, which had dwindled to just twenty-five people.  When visiting renewal speakers Mr. and Mrs. Crouch visited St. James in August 1919, they prayed for Dr. Purdie in the rectory.  Dr. Purdie was powerfully filled with God’s presence, resting in the Spirit, and beginning to pray in a supernatural language.  In those early days, well before the impact of the Rev. Dennis Bennett author of Nine O’clock In The Morning, very few Anglican clergy were familiar with the charismatic gifts.  This experience was described by Dr. Purdie as ‘a fresh refilling of the Spirit of Life’.  Dr Purdie saw his release of the gift of tongues as very similar to that of Vicar A.A. Boddy of All Saints Anglican Church, Sunderland, in 1907 where the Holy Spirit powerfully impacted all of England.  Before Dr. Purdie left St. James, it had the largest Sunday School and most generous giving in the entire diocese.

 

In August 1925, Dr. Purdie was contacted by R.E. McAllister, the PAOC (Pentecostal Assemblies of God) General Secretary http://www.paoc.org , informing him that he had been unanimously elected as founding Principal of Western Bible College in Winnipeg.  Dr. Purdie took two months praying and reflecting before he accepted the offer.  Tom Johnstone, PAOC General Superintendent, said that ‘there isn’t a man in all of Canada who contributed more of a lasting nature to the PAOC than J. Eustace Purdie.  He has laid a foundation of biblical doctrines that has paid dividends.’  The Rev. Dr. Ronald Kydd of St Peter’s Anglican Church in Cobourg, Ontario, said that ‘the one who made the greatest individual theological contribution to the PAOC was undoubtedly J. Eustace Purdie.’  In 1950, Dr. Purdie was commissioned by the PAOC General Assembly to write their official Catechism, a 567-Questions & Answers Book entitled Concerning the Faith, a catechism that drew heavily from the 39 Articles and the Book of Common Prayer.  In Question 86, Dr. Purdie asked: What is the most terrible of all sins recorded in the Bible?  Dr. Purdie memorably answered: ‘The most terrible of all sins is unbelief.’

 

Dr. Purdie commented to the Saskatoon Bishop: ‘In my heart I never left the Anglican Church for one moment in all these years.’  The first Sunday of every month for over fifty years, Dr. Purdie would either preach or help celebrate Communion at St. Margaret’s Anglican Church, Winnipeg.  Canon Jim Slater, the former St. Margaret’s Rector, commented that Dr. Purdie ‘was an Anglican till he died…he was a holy man and prayed for my ministry every day.”  As an outstanding theologian, Dr. Purdie has been compared to Dr. JI Packer.  Others would see him more as an early Dennis Bennett, another famous pioneer in Anglican renewal.  Dr. Purdie is fondly remembered by many Pentecostals for his practice of always wearing his Anglican clerical collar and for using the Anglican lectionary/bible readings in his sermons.  One of his early students George Griffin described Dr. Purdie this way: “As a man, he was a gentleman indeed with a great heart concern for each individual under his care.  No unapproachable austerity, but a heart-warming friendliness…a sense of humour which enjoyed good wholesome fun.  Who has not heard his hearty laugh echo along the way when we hiked through the woods or park with him?  His presence was enough to settle a problem of discipline when other methods failed; so great was the esteem in which he was held.”

Dr. Purdie poignantly commented: “The failures throughout the history of the Christian Church are largely due to the fact that the Holy Spirit’s baptism has not been given its rightful place in the Church.  To reject it is to reject the greatest asset for labour, service, and ministry that is the privilege of men to enjoy.”  What a great challenge to renewal-oriented Canadian Anglicans in the early years of the 21st century!

 

At close to ninety-seven years of age, Dr. Purdie was ‘promoted to Glory’.  He was still preaching over ninety times a year at the end of his life.  Fittingly, Dr. Purdie’s funeral was conducted by both Pentecostal and Anglican clergy.  Pastor Herb Barber who took his funeral at Calvary Temple said that Dr. Purdie established the PAOC on a solid theological and biblical basis.  Pastor Ed Austin, a student of Dr. Purdie, said. “Dr. Purdie was a real prince, a great scholar, a tremendous teacher.  We all loved him.”

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

Past Chair, Anglican Renewal Ministries of Canada

-previously published in the Anglicans for Renewal Canada magazine

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca


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Jesus Loves me, This I know…

By the Rev. Dr. Ed HirdChristlike

One of the most well-known children’s songs throughout the world is “Jesus loves me, this I know.”  Somehow that song, like “Amazing Grace”, forms part of the spiritual memory banks of most adults.  The vast majority of baby boomers and their ‘builder’ parents have gone as children either to Sunday School or Catechism.  As a result, most older adults, whether or not they currently attend church, have significant core memories connected with those early experiences. This would not necessarily be true with GenXers and Millennials.

As a teenager, I found church boring and avoided it by golfing and skiing on Sunday mornings.  But as a child, I remember enjoying Sunday School and looking forward to going.  I’ve always liked to sing, and one of my favorite hymns as a child was “Jesus loves me, this I know”.  Even though I did not know Jesus personally, something touched me as I sang that song in Sunday School.  Years later, I still feel deeply moved by this simple song.

Dr. Karl Barth was one of the most brilliant and complex intellectuals of the twentieth century.  He wrote volume after massive volume on the meaning of life and faith.  A reporter once asked Dr. Barth if he could summarize what he had said in all those volumes.  Dr. Barth thought for a moment and then said: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

chairman_maoWhen Mao Tse Tung attempted to crush the church in China, things seemed very bleak.  In 1972 however, a message leaked out which simply said: “The this I know people are well”.  The Communist authorities did not understand the message.  But Christians all around the world knew instantly that this referred to the world’s most famous children’s hymn.  Miraculously the Chinese Church, instead of being crushed, has boomed under persecution, growing from 1.5 million believers to over 100 million.

The author of this amazing little children’s song was Anna Bartlett Warner, sister to the famous 19th century writer, Susan B. Warner.  Susan’s first novel The Wide Wide World was an instant success, second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the most popular 19th century novel written in North America.  Anna published her own novel Dollars and Cenannabartettwarnerts under the pseudonym “Amy Lothrop”.  Anna and Susan collaborated together on fifteen fiction and children’s books.  Neither sister ever married, so they shared a house on Constitution Island right across from the famous West Point Military Academy.

The two sisters took a great interest in the Military Academy in which their uncle Thomas Warner was a chaplain and professor.  As a result, they opened their home to the cadets and held Sunday School classes.  Anna outlived her sickly sister by thirty years, and continued to run a very large Sunday School throughout her life.  It was her invariable custom to write for her students a fresh hymn once a month. “Jesus Loves Me” was one of those monthly West Point hymns.  Anna also gave the song to her sister Susan to use in the novel Say and Seal. In Susan’s book, a Sunday School teacher sings ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to a sick pupil.

Great words without a great tune don’t get very far in the musical world.  Fortunately William Batchelder Bradbury stumbled across the “Jesus Loves Me” words, and wrote the now unforgettable tune.  Thirteen years earlier, Bradbury had written the tune for the “Just as I am” hymn, which everyone nowadays associates with Billy Graham Crusades.  In 1862, Bradbury found the “Jesus loves me” words in a best-selling 19th-williambradburycentury book, in which the words were spoken as a comforting poem to a dying child, John Fox.  Along with his tune, Bradbury added his own chorus “Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus Loves me…”   Within months, this song raced across the hearts of children throughout North America, and eventually all the continents of the world.

Even after 155+ years, “Jesus Loves Me” is still the No. 1 spiritual song in the hearts of children around the world.  Why is this?  I believe that it is because all of us deep down need to know that God loves us.  When I tell unchurched people that Jesus loves them, many of them genuinely thank me.  One lady said: “Great…we can use lots of love”.  A man said: “Thanks…I’m going to need Him some day.”  Whatever situation we are in, all of us need to know that the Lord really loves and cares for each of us.

I loved my Grandpa deeply, even though sometimes he was distant and abrasive.  Grandpa claimed to be an atheist, who had no time for religion.  One day I discovered to my surprise that Grandpa used to be active in a church choir, until his first wife died giving birth to her second child.  Left with two children under age two, he turned bitter and dropped out of church.

When Grandpa was in his late 80’s, I was speaking with him about that painful time in his life.  Initially he said that he didn’t want to talk about it, but then he started talking.  First he said that God sure works in mysterious ways.  Then my atheist Grandpa began to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know” to my three year-old son.  My son began to dance in front of Grandpa, and an amazing catharsis happened for my Grandfather.  Shortly after, my ‘atheist’ grandfather began listening to hymns again.  The next time I visited him, Grandpa spontaneously sang: “Up from the grave He arose!”  Within two years, I took my Grandpa’s funeral, confident that Grandpa had rediscovered that Jesus loved him too.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin

-award-winning author of  Battle for the Soul of Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore News

P. S. Click this Amazon link to view for free the first two chapters of our new novel Blue Sky.

“I’m afraid there’s been an accident…”

12bdf6ff-3021-4e73-bccd-bc919398d1a0-7068-0000031133e7b4d9Sandy Brown and her family have just moved to Spokane, Washington where her husband, Scott, is pastoring a new church. With a fresh start, Sandy is determined to devote more time to her four children. But, within weeks of settling in their new life, the Brown family is plunged into turmoil.

Sandy receives shocking news that her children aren’t safe, which brings back haunting memories of the trauma she experienced as a girl. Then, the unthinkable happens…

A brutal attack puts Sandy on the brink of losing everything she’s loved. Her faith in God and the family she cherishes are pushed to the ultimate limit.

Is healing possible when so many loved ones are hurt? Are miracles really possible through the power of prayer? Can life return to the way it was before?

Blue Sky reveals how a mother’s most basic instinct isn’t for survival… but for family.

If you’re a fan of Karen Kingsbury, then you’ll love Blue Sky. Get your copy today on paperback or  kindle.

-Click to check out our marriage book For Better For Worse: discovering the keys to a lasting relationship on Amazon. You can even read the first two chapters for free to see if the book speaks to you.

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form.  Dr. JI Packer wrote the foreword, saying “I heartily commend what he has written.” The book focuses on strengthening a new generation of healthy leaders. Drawing on examples from Titus’ healthy leadership in the pirate island of Crete, it shows how we can embrace a holistically healthy life.

In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook. It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca 

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ED HIRD, 102 – 15168 19th Avenue, Surrey, BC, V4A 0A5. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $4.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to purchase the Companion Bible Study by Jan Cox (for the Battle of the Soul of Canada) in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com and Amazon.ca